Batwoman #3 review

Batwoman 23

Coryana is an island full of mysteries and Marguerite Bennett and James Tynion IV tease out bits and pieces of the puzzle as this exotic thriller continues to play out. In this issue we particularly get a little more information about Tahani, the machete-wielding spirit of vengeance who has been haunting Kate ever since she made landfall. We know the two have a past and that Tahani has taken on this new deadly persona sometime between when Kate left the island all those years ago and here return. But we still know maddeningly little about who these were to each other back then.

Perhaps predictably, Tahani was “rescued” from crippling poverty in Nigeria by Safiyah, who is the still-missing link in all of this. But we also get a sense that Tahani’s rages–or at least capacity to kill–have been around a long while.

Tahani’s words are ironic, considering

The “Many Arms of Death” storyline is still grinding a bit too slowly and this issue, titled “If I had a Heart”, maybe invites us to question the heart of this comic a little. We make very little progress in this issue, but that doesn’t stop it from being mostly captivating as a read. Kate meets the mysterious Elder and Younger (while Julia “Tuxedo One” plays creepy sibling bingo, which is a hilarious moment). Julia’s presence in the book otherwise isn’t much justified otherwise except as a sounding board for Kate’s explorations. To be honest, I’m okay with that at the moment. It’s a convenience, but at least it’s not an obtrusive one.

Unfortunately, however, Kate doesn’t make much headway in her investigation here except to discover what we all maybe already know: that something’s rotten in Denmark (or Coryana). She thinks she’s playing these yahoos, they have the upper hand on her, it’s all a bunch of cat/mouse. I’d even go so far as to call it see-sawy in the back and forth of the power dynamic–and if you’re not a fan of up and down from page-to-page, you might come away from this a little seasick.

Impeding the action is Tahani herself, for busting on Kate and the weirdo kids. I honestly couldn’t figure out the justification for this moment. Tahani has a handler and the situation was being handled. Felt more like an excuse to just throw in some fighting action, which leads to a helicopter on the roof (because, of course), and Kate doing one of those presto-chango costume switcheroos that reminds you just how silly costumed heroes are to begin with.

And then this happens and it’s pretty cool so you just sort of forget about how absurd it is.

Seriously, I don’t even know what those blades are for; she doesn’t use them

Honestly, without Steve Epting’s art, I might be having a much different experience with this book. The story isn’t bad, but it’s truly crawling. We’re three issues in (technically four since there were two issue no. 1s–the “Rebirth” and then the “official” no. 1), and Kate has had variations on the same fight with Tahani over and over again. Different locations, different conclusions, but basically the same fight.

The end of this issue seems to promise that we’ll get some traction, so I’m still engaged, but Epting’s beautiful art is a win-plus in my ledger. Maybe even a plus-plus. I do love the eye candy and this has plenty of it! From his dismal rainy Nigerian alley to the bright facade of the tourist trap hotel and back again to a moody cove full of dangerous shadows, Epting never gets lazy with the details and the world of Coryana feels specific in its actualization.

Also, Kate just looks amazing. Both as herself and in her alter-ego costume. Once again Jeromy Cox’s colors are well worth a mention too. In lesser hands, Epting’s art might suffer, but Cox makes everything pop. If I had to level a criticism, I would say the opening page with the fruit might have overdone it just a wee bit–the rest of the colors are fairly washed out in that scene and yet the fruit seems to glow in the dark. Some subtler hues might have helped the page to scream a little less louder: get your fresh-pressed metaphor here!

Recommended If…

  • The book is beautiful. If you love comic book art or are studying comic books as a visual medium, this is a must-have on your pull-list.
  • Julia manages to have an exchange with Kate that actually made me laugh.

Overall

Bennett and Tynion still play it safe in this issue as Kate’s investigation of the mysterious island and its inscrutable inhabitants inches forward. We get the promise of some major threats on the horizon, but for now Kate still feels like she’s reacting rather than acting. The next issue might change that, though, and in the meantime, Epting’s art makes this well worth the price of admission; it is, truly, the heart of this comic at the moment.

SCORE: 7/10

 

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